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Haunting Julia - Queens Theatre, Hornchurch

This is one of Alan Ayckbourn’s lesser-known plays and a real departure for him as most of the laughter is because the audience nervously doesn’t know what to expect. It was first performed in Scarborough in 1994 and is a three-handed, all male play which follows the story of Joe, father to Julia who tragically committed suicide aged 19, her then boyfriend Andy and the student accommodation janitor, now psychic Ken.

Once again, the set here was fantastic, surrounded in a black box like a TV screen without a proscenium arch which really helped in focusing the attention. It depicted Julia’s student room which is now part of a public viewing room and although the set was predominantly on stage left, the action was well split between the two areas.

Playing Joe, Julia's Father was Sam Cox. I really felt his northern bullishness and his frustration over not knowing what happened to his daughter.  Many children can relate to pushy parents who ‘only want the best for their kids’ and Joe brought us the best and the worst of this persona. it was a very relatable performance.

As Julia’s ex-boyfriend Andy, Matthew Spencer gave a strong performance full of scepticism and disbelief.  I particularly liked his monologue in Act 2 which revealed so much of the character and his history.

Clive Llewellyn delivered the most thought-provoking performance of the evening, I really like his wide-eyed, Jamaican Ken, often confused or misunderstood but trying to explain the unexplainable and keeping a sense of calm throughout.

I did feel some of the tension was missing in the first half which seemed a little long-winded and didn’t really go anywhere, which I suspect is down more to the play itself than the direction or performers but Act 2 made up for it with far more drama and intensity.
This production was well cast and gave a great evening’s entertainment, with some superb surprises along the way. If you like suspense drama then this is definitely one for you.
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